Daily Devotion for April 9, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
"Secret Garden", a Norwegian Christian group, is not as well known as they deserve; they wrote and first performed both this song and You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban’s great hit.
And I just can't face the day,
When darkness falls around me
And I just can't find my way,
When my eyes don't clearly see
And I stumble through it all,
You I lean upon,
You keep my strong,
And you rise me when I fall.
You are there when I most need you.
You are there so constantly.
You come shining through,
You always do,
You are always there for me.
When life brings me to my knees,
When my back's against the wall,
You are standing there right with me
Just to keep me standing tall.
Though a burden I may be,
You don't weary,
You don't rest,
You are reaching out to carry me,
And I know I’m Heaven-blessed.
Music by Rolf Lovland
Lyrics by Brendan Graham
Prayer for the Guidance During the Day
Oh my God, you know my weakness and failings, and that without your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others'. Grant me, therefore, the help of your grace, according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the tasks you will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and let me set my hand to these tasks with the vigor and joy of one with whom you abide. And if I should face trials, suffering or failure, I pray that your hand will lift me up, and I may be refreshed. In the name of Christ, I pray,
For Those in Need of Strength
I pray, Lord, for all who will need strength and courage in the day ahead: For those who face danger. For those who risk themselves for others. For those who must make an important decision today. For people who are seriously ill. For those facing persecution or torture. I ask you, Lord, to give them the power of your Spirit,
Prayer for Physical Renewal
Lord, I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body, and soul.
I am lost, but I am singing. You gave me life, and you also give me the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you've laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you've placed around me to help me get better. In your name I pray,
God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 15:1-3 (NKJV)
Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend.
Exodus 19:10-11 (ESV)
Israel at Sinai
When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
Notes on the Scripture
As we saw in the previous verses, God did not simply impose His covenant on the Jews; they had the power to exercise their free will and opt out of it, but they formally accepted the covenant, each of them. It was a contract. Moses acts like an ambassador in a peace negotiation, climbing back up the mountain to give their answer to God.
In their journey, the Israelites have seen distant manifestations of Yahweh, for He Himself marked their route as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, in the direction they were to go. But only Moses has heard His voice.
Now, however, at this momentous occasion, God is going to manifest Himself and speak to the people directly. But He does not want to be confused with the idols that had served as "gods" during the Israelites formative years, for their temptation to revert to the confusion of their upbringing must have been strong. They cannot touch Him, cuddle Him, paint Him, or put Him on a pedestal to look at while they pray. This is a hard thing for them (or anyone) to learn.
But one must infer that God wanted the Israelites to witness His reality directly. For one thing, it stopped any accusation that Moses was a fraud — that he is simply going up the mountain and making stuff up — or even that he was insane. God is going to show Himself and speak directly to the people, but only once. For He is seeking, not to become a corporeal king, but an object of faith.
One of the great divisions in Christianity is raised by the events in Exodus 19: the belief in mystical communion with God through the intermediation of a priest, versus the belief in direct communication. At one extreme, Catholic and Orthodox churches believe that a priest is ordained by God and holds a special place, the ability to perform sacramental rituals.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the pure Protestant churches, which reject the concept of sacrament completely. As a moderate example, most Baptists hold spectacular baptisms by total immersion, but they do not believe that the Holy Spirit is conferred by the ritual; rather, it is a demonstration to the world that the person has accepted Christ and has been blessed by the Holy Spirit. And there are "liturgical" Protestant churches (such as Anglicans and Lutherans) that fall somewhere in-between.
There is much to be said, both practically and Biblically, for both points of view. Daily Prayer very strongly believes that both are completely correct! Judaism would undergo the same differentiation; by the time of Christ, there was a great struggle in Judaism between the Sadducees, the very priest-oriented and more ritualistic sect, and the Pharisees, the sect that emphasized law and teaching, personal prayer, and a priesthood of all faithful Jews.
But in Exodus, we see both. By and large, God only speaks to the people through a prophet and priest: Moses and Aaron. And yet, here He is, preparing to speak directly to every Jew camped at the foot of Mount Sinai.
One thing is not at all in question: The frequent enmity between liturgical and evangelical worshipers is itself anti-Christian. To hate someone, who has sincerely confessed Christ as his Lord and Savior, is to hate Christ. (E.g., 1 John 4:20)